The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking the bed bug situation so seriously that it has been holding a summit in the Washington, DC area over the past two days (April 14-15, 2009). The first ever National Bed Bug Summit is being held under the auspices of EPA’s Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee.
According to the EPA, the bed bug situation is no laughing matter. Greg Baumann, a senior scientist at the National Pest Management Association, explains, “Over the years, the EPA has pulled many of the most potent chemicals [like DDT] off the shelves because of environmental concerns. Pest managers can still kill the bugs, but the public needs to be patient.” (Source: Joel Rose, Marketplace.)
Mike Deutsch, staff entomologist with Arrow Exterminating has been finding bed bugs in all sorts of places: inside lamp bases, clock radios, TVs, computer keyboards, between the pages of books, inside electric switches, behind ceiling moldings, and in one case, inside a cell phone. “We’ve never seen anything like this. We certainly know that bed bugs are not restricted to beds and upholstered furniture, but now we’re finding them in places even we never thought possible.” What’s more, Deutsch say, “Expect to see a huge increase in bed bugs after spring break is over this year.”
Frequent international travel and hotel stays have helped bed bugs to make a comeback after near extinction in the U.S. The bugs find their way into suitcases and end up being carried home here to the States.
Bed bug infestations have grown at a steady clip over the last handful of years. And the public’s refusal to accept the bed bug epidemic (despite the numerous reports of infestations regularly making headlines, like this story posted on FacilityBlog last year about Fox News) will only make matters worse. And despite the stigma associated with the pests, bed bugs don’t adhere to specific socioeconomic demographics.
According to Deutsch, proactive measures to prevent infestation are limited but absolutely necessary. “The infestation problem is only going to get worse in the immediate future,” says Deutsch. “The public needs to accept this fact, get educated and take what preventive measures they can, especially since bed bug populations are extremely difficult to detect when their populations are at a low level within the home. People don’t realize there is a problem until they are getting bitten.”
Summit participants will share information on topics including the expanding impact of bed bugs on the housing, hospitality, and other sectors; factors contributing to the growing problem; and the response of the public health community and government agencies. The meeting will provide a venue to communicate with others in the diverse community affected by the increasing problem of bed bugs. Participants will also identify ideas and options for bed bug prevention, control, and management; create strategies for outreach and education; and develop recommendations for action.
EPA’s National Bed Bug Summit meeting is open to the public. If you are interested in attending, you do not need to register in advance of the meeting, and there is no registration fee. Seating is limited and available on a first-come basis. While no registration is necessary, we encourage you to RSVP so we can better estimate attendance and provide meeting updates. For information on the location and times of the meeting, please contact Karen Angulo ([email protected].gov) by e-mail or telephone (703-306-0404).